WASHINGTON — Gift cards could be among the items headed for a rough holiday sales season, according to the National Retail Federation, which last week said it was expecting the slowest holiday retail sales season since 2002. In a conference call discussing its forecast for a 2.2% overall sales gain for retail this season — well below the survey's 10-year average of 4.4% growth and the lowest since a 1.3% gain in 2002 — Scott Krugman, vice president of the NRF, said grim economic conditions and the likelihood of retailers deeply discounting merchandise could make gift cards fall from favor as a shopper option this year. “The question [about gift cards] is, is it a viable gift to give if people are shopping on a budget? Do you give a $50 gift card or do you give a $50 sweater that's 40% off?” Krugman asked. He predicted luxury retailers could feel a pinch as shoppers gravitate toward discounters and warehouse clubs.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores here has expanded its food-related presence online, according to reports. The Financial Times of London reported last week that Wal-Mart recently added “tens of thousands” of food and HBC items to its e-commerce website, although they are not available to purchase for delivery. The items are now linked to a “search in store” feature the retailer added to its website last year, the newspaper said.
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — An analysis of blog postings conducted by the research firm J.D. Power and Associates here indicates Whole Foods earns high marks when it comes to the perception of its environmental sustainability, while Safeway and Costco have a long way to go. J.D. Power's Web intelligence division analyzed 40 million blog posts made during the last six months to determine the extent of consumer engagement around sustainability generated by retail and consumer goods companies, the firm said last week. Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods not only generated the greatest volume of posts, but also a higher percentage of positive sentiments, earning designation as a “pacesetter,” J.D. Power said. Safeway and Costco, each of which generated more than 1% of the total volume of blog mentions, had lower-than-average proportions of positive sentiment and are considered “challenged,” the study said.
CHICAGO — IGA Global here said the IGA banner has been unveiled for the first time in Mexico on two stores supplied by Unified Grocers, Los Angeles. Both stores are located in La Paz and are operated by Centro Commercial Californiano. The company's third store, in Cabo San Lucas, is being remodeled, and a decision has not yet been made about whether to include it as part of the IGA program, Unified officials told SN.
MONTVALE, N.J. — A council of union leaders last week lauded Christian Haub, executive chairman of A&P, for his leadership efforts in creating a “seamless” integration between A&P and Pathmark. The Northeast Political Action Committee (NEPAC), comprised of 20 United Food and Commercial Workers union locals from Vermont to New Jersey, also saluted Richard Charette, president of UFCW Local 1445, and N.J. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.